January 23, 2011

I don't have any feeling in my butt anymore

When I first began cycling back in 2004, the only bike I was interested in "trying out" was a road bike. I had this obsessive crush on a man who belonged to a group of gym rats in which some of them happened to also ride real bicycles on the weekends outside the gym's spin class. I was a member of their Yahoo Group (remember those?) and read about their adventures on two-wheels through their various emails back and forth. I so badly wanted to be one of them and ride like them, as well as attract the attention of that one man, I went out and bought a bike. Yup...there you have it. I bought my road bike and began serious cycling seven years ago because of a man....well, okay, hormones (whatever). The man and I never so much as rode one mile together, but I did begin my passionate love affair with cycling. For that reason alone, I'm so very grateful I met him.

Anyway, back then, I couldn't fathom riding 30 miles, let alone 70-100+. I had no idea how to use my gears correctly, nor did I understand proper fueling, etc. I just wanted to ride and fantasize that I was cool on a bike. So, every weekend, I'd go ride at Griffith Park or along SGRT, thinking that "this" was what cycling was all about -skinny bike, skinny tires, riding for an hour or two. Yeah (chuckle), those were the days.

Flash forward to now. I no longer cycle to attract the opposite sex or fit into a group. No, I ride cause I'm addicted to it. It makes me laugh now that I, at one time, thought 30 miles was a huge ride (note here: any ride is a good one, so I'm in no way making fun of other folks who may still think 30 miles is a lot; we all start somewhere and have our own goals). To me, anything under 50 miles is a warm up. However, after the many dramas of last year, I'm still (still) working myself back up and into (riding) shape. I will never again take for granted the amount of work required to remain on top of one's game when it comes to miles and mountains.

Which now brings me to the point of all of the above (good God, I'm long-winded). I've completely changed my mindset when it comes to cycling. For all the road riding on little skinny tires that I've done over the years, I'm seriously beginning to switch to fat tires, a heavy bike and dirt. I mean mountain biking, of course, which isn't new for me certainly - but my focus on it is. Especially of late, while trying to improve my fitness. I've discovered that riding on knobbies for four hours leaves me stronger than riding on slicks for the same amount of time. This makes sense. I've read that you can burn up to 25% more calories riding on a mountain bike (versus a road bike). It's the weight of the bike, the upright, less aerodynamic positioning, and in most cases, the big fat backpack your carrying. It all adds up!

For some roadies, all the extra weight is undesirable on every level, as is the dirt, rocks and ruts. I know as much, cause I use to be one of them. You couldn't have talked me into riding a mountain bike for anything, and I often got labeled a "roadie snob" by some mountain bikers back then. I was always perplexed and a little hurt by that label. Just because a person doesn't want to do something, doesn't make him/her a snob. But that's a whole other topic entirely (roadies vs. mountain bikers vs. hipsters vs....blah, blah) and not one I'm interested in at all. All I care about is that over time, I eventually stepped over to the "dark side," bought a mountain bike and now (now) I'm riding it almost more than I ride my road bike. No longer does Patsy rule the day...Nellie now gets equal attention.

There is one serious glitch in all my wanting to ride on knobbies, however. I don't really have too many folks to ride with, and that's not safe (and something I don't do - ride secluded trails alone). I don't know many others who want to ride a mountain bike like I do. Most mountain bikers are hardcore and love single tracks with drop-offs, boulders and jumps. Or, alternatively, they want to ride about eight miles on a fire road and call it a day. I'm an anomaly. Even after two and a half years of riding a mountain bike, I still don't have bike handling skills worth shit on dirt, so single tracks with all their many obstacles are pretty much out for me. What I do have, however, is incredible endurance and ability to keep going long after the fire road ends. It may take me ten minutes longer to get up a dirt hill (and likely I'll have to walk it), but I can do it all day long and then some. It's kinda how I operate on a road bike. Quantity ranks as high as quality for me. Give me miles and never will you hear me call them "junk."

Now that I'm craving the dirt but have no set companion to ride it with me, I've had to adjust and figure out how to get both fixes (mountain bike riding and miles). Thus, I've gotten into what I call "hybrid riding." I ride a mountain bike on paved roads and on dirt, all in the same ride. I've been doing it since I first bought the mountain bike, but only recently did it dawn on me the merit of it. You need to whip your ass in shape in a hurry? Try going out on knobbies, riding up some paved canyons, hopping onto dirt and, oh yeah, map it out to equal 50 miles. That's exactly what I did yesterday!

seems my "secret" route ain't so secret...


Yup...I mapped out (from home) a solid 50 miles and rode them with a full camel back strapped to me. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Had all of it been on paved roads, I wouldn't be gloating so much. I mean, yes, it's harder to ride fat tires on pavement, no doubt about it. But it's really a challenge to ride both elements in one ride. I found that out when I took off from my driveway and headed up to Mulholland yesterday. I did my usual - ride to dirt Mulholland and climb to the Nike Missile Site. But instead of riding to Reseda, down and back, I kept going all the way to the end of dirt Mulholland, down into the neighborhood just off of Topanga Canyon and back. I mixed that glorious dirt fire road with urban riding, a bike path, neighborhood streets and steep paved canyons. I guess you could have described my route as a tad neurotic.


could not have been bluer above me...

past Reseda, straight down to the end of dirt Mulholland...

lots of hikers out...


As for a workout, it was truly substantial. The hardest part was on the flats mainly because I just couldn't push that bike any faster than I could pedal over thirty pounds (plus my own body weight, let's not forget that). This meant a kind of workout I didn't expect entirely. I've ridden many times on the bike path on Nellie, but never as far as I did yesterday (which was the one crappy part about my route - I had to complete an out and back on the bike path to get the extra five miles I lacked to equal a full 50). By the time I'd hit 42 miles, I was cooked. And yet, there were eight miles left to get me home...the hardest eight miles I've ridden this year thus far!


I was passed and dropped by so many "roadies" (heh heh)...

second round on the bike path...


I did have company yesterday, just not with me. Many fellow riders on so many varied bikes pulled up alongside me to chat from time to time. I must look terribly lonely or utterly approachable, cause for some reason folks just pedal on up to me and ride along for a few miles. Not that I'm complaining. I met two mountain bikers who helped me pass the time on dirt Mulholland, two tatooed hipster types who were incredibly amusing and sweet, a hottie roadie type who actually had skinny knobbies on his bike (who was planning to climb Reseda and then do a trail run!) and many hikers and families out, all very happy to smile and wave hello as I passed by them. Add all this friendly interaction to the ridiculously gorgeous weather I had the pleasure of enjoying, and it was just flat out another perfect ride day.

favorite pic of the day - he was so cute!...


Best interaction I had? It was when one of the tatooed guys asked me how many miles I had ridden.

"About 37 at this point, but I'm going for 50 miles total," I bragged.

"50?! Dude! - doesn't your butt hurt with that many miles?" he asked and then looked back at my booty without any attempt to hide where he was looking.

"Does my butt hurt? Dude, I don't have any feeling in my butt anymore."

He laughed at that before pedaling off with his friend. Funny thing is...I wasn't joking.

Now, that was my ride, and here was my evening. I got invited to one of my new favorite friends' house again for dinner. I love these two new friends. Talk about down-to-earth, funny and just good people. I was treated to wonderful company, a room full of smart funny women, and one very impressive man, who not only put up with all of the feminine energy but who also prepared the meal (from scratch). That man can cook! As I did at Thanksgiving, I'm posting pics of the food again. (Dad, let me know if you want any of the recipes).


Appetizer #1 - can't remember what this was, but I could have eaten all of that all by myself! (I didn't, I only had one)...


appetizer #2 - white bean spread with fresh chard, yum...

the most delicious, evil cheese potatoes ever...
my favorite dish - Brussel Sprouts with apples & sweet potatoes...


asparagus with bacon, need I say more?...

melt in your mouth roast...

wicked delicious onions in a balsamic reduction...

fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, strawberries and fresh basil...I died and went to heaven...

and don't forget the exquisite wine!...

Today? Hike day! Spent with more friends and a little dog worth 25 times her weight in gold. We just hiked Runyon and then hit the farmers market, where we snacked on tamales and split a couple of cookies (yes, I added the points!). It was again so beautiful outside, and I found out later that we traveled a total of 10,000 steps. Wow...who knew hiking could involve so much walking (heh heh).

the hike up...
the tamale following...

Lucy...

Last but certainly not least, I leave you with the cutest dragon business yet. Boo ate blueberries today. This is news, cause that little stinker has not been eating (she is so finicky). But I got her to eat one blueberry and from there, she scarfed them down. I then coined them "Boo"-berries. Get it?

she aims...

and score!


Another wonderful weekend in southern Cal.

2 comments:

Plochman said...

Do you hear that ? It's the sound of me smiling. ;-) Very happy you have found yourself once again.
Pman

merider (M.E.-rider) said...

Thank you, P-Man!!! You sweetheart. Yes, I'm getting my old self back. It's a struggle, but one I'm winning... :-) I hope you are doing well.

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